Social Acceptance of Ex-Convicts and Finding Meaning in Their Life

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CHAPTER I
THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND

The hardest aspect of the prison system is the stigmatization that comes after release. This stigmatization against minorities makes re-integration back into society very difficult, especially in the labor market. Large populations of convicts are men and this has a negative effect on the stability of families.

Social stigma is one of the common problems which ex-convicts are facing today. This is one of the reasons why they cannot change themselves for the better because of the labels being imposed to them. In other words, social stigma imposed to the ex-convicts hinders their willingness to change for the better because of the bad impression to them and other people thinks that they will not do anything good in the society. These instances would probably result to social exclusion.

The process of leaving prison will not be easy for ex-convicts. By simply carrying the “ex-convict” as a label, they will only be excluded in the society (Visher & Travis, 2003). In our society, it is normal to perceive an ex-convict at first encounter, as violent or harmful individuals. But, people should put in their minds the true essence of imprisonment. As suggested by Giddens (1997), a correctional institution serves as a rehabilitation of the inmates to play active role and to be a proper part of the society after their sentences. (as cited in Nsanze, 2007). With this insight, people might change their perception and attitude towards an ex-convict.

Many ex-convicts claimed that they experience continuous exclusion since their release (Nsanze, 2007). There are barriers, from retrieving their family to securing jobs. In addition, there longer the sentence imposed to them, the more likely that an ex-convict like them not be recognized and not to be welcomed in the society, in which they belong previously. In other words, they become eroded and became useless (Pager & Manza, 2004).

Moreover, Newman (2010) defined another hot button issue for ex-convicts, which is recidivism. Due to the extreme exclusions and the lack of acceptance an ex-convicts experience in a society, the probability of repeating the crimes they committed becomes high. Though there are benefits, programs, and supports that are made and proposed for ex-convicts, still, any of this solves nothing (Digal, 2011).

The researchers want to change the conception of the Filipinos about ex-convicts. Ex-convicts are usually being discriminated and being set aside. They are experiencing unfair treatments in fields of education and employment; they may even receive detachment from their own family, and unfair judgments from the society. Social rejection creates frustrations and makes life difficult for ex-convicts. According to Ronquillo (2011) stated that most prisoners become disassociated with their love ones and so they refuse to leave jail because they have no family to come home to.

Given this reality, the personal reform that an ex-convict is pursuing becomes difficult and a challenging personal struggle which is not always successful due to lack of opportunities and poverty. By pursuing this study, we make people more aware of the experiences, and sentiments of ex-convicts. We encourage them to open their hearts and minds to help create a social environment where ex-convicts will be accepted and trusted by more people and where they will have a better chance of living a normal, moral and decent life.

This study is not for ex-convicts alone, the researchers also want to tell the prisoners that there is life waiting for them after imprisonment. This study is also for the family member of the ex-convict, professors or teachers to understand the situation of ex-convicts, so that they will be the one to inform the students, and to change the misconception of the society and encourage them to help the ex-convict to build a new life by...
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